I just got an email from someone who I thought knew better than to fall for this crap. He emails me and says, “Do you think this is real?” Below his excited message is one of these international lotto messages. Yeah, he won a million dollars and all he has to do is respond, give them all his personal information and pay some, um, well, legal fees. Yeah, right. It’s a scam. So I figured I’d explain why in case someone else reading this might have happened across one of these messages for the first time and was considering replying and handing over all their info.
Ok, let’s start breaking it down. First of all, and most importantly, if you didn’t buy an international lottery ticket, how do you expect to win an international lottery? You know how a lottery works. You buy a ticket, you enter to win. How come in this case, people throw the rules of common sense out the window? “It came to me in an email. It must be legitimate. They mention lawyers in it, it must be legal.” No no no! It’s like viruses. If it’s not expected, it’s likely trouble.
Next, how did they get your email address? If they don’t say how they got it, chances are pretty damn high that it was through illegal means or just random spamming. They didn’t find you because of some promotional technique unless they tell you what that is. For instance, “you deal with company X. We are one of company X’s affiliates, and as part of something you signed that allows company X to share information with its affiliates, we got your info.” Of course, you’d have to actually deal with company X and you would have had to have signed something that they refer to for this to be valid.
Next, how do you even know who this person is, and since you don’t know who they are, how can you just tell them all your personal information? Shouldn’t there be something a little more official or formal than, “send all your stuff here”? Doesn’t that make it way too easy for them to get enough information to, oh, say, commit identity theft?
And, don’t you find it a bit odd that you’re having to pay legal fees and they don’t even tell you how much they are or what they will entail?
Finally, this email came from the Netherlands. That is the place where a lot of these international lottery *scams* come from. So if it’s from the Netherlands saying ya won big bucks, chances are it’s big bullshit.
I was just so shocked that this person, a smart person in so many ways, fell for this. So please! Everyone! Don’t send money and personal information to people who claim you’ve one big international bucks. You haven’t, unless you actually bought a ticket. That stuff doesn’t just come for free. All that comes for free out of this crap is trouble.